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Saving Your Own Seeds

This is a discussion on Saving Your Own Seeds within the Gardening forums, part of the Survival Food Procurement category; Because food security is always an issue, especially with the weather problems many states have had this year and many farmers either having to plant ...

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Thread: Saving Your Own Seeds

  1. #1
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    Saving Your Own Seeds

    Because food security is always an issue, especially with the weather problems many states have had this year and many farmers either having to plant later, or they didn't plant at all....then early frosts......we could be facing some serious issues with the food supply and seed companies may have shortages as well. So it's always good to know how to save your own seeds, so you can grow more of your own food and rely less on big AG.

    As in another thread, you have to start with the right kind of seeds......either Heirlooms or Open Pollinated seeds because hybrids won't give you what you might expect or won't give you anything.

    Things like Peas & Beans are the easiest. They keep providing new pods as long as you keep picking them...to a point cause eventually they will get tired and production will slow down. So after you've picked your fill over the season, start leaving a few pods on the vine until the plants stop producing and just leave the pods to dry on the vine. But do check on them every few days or so to be sure they haven't cracked open spilling the seed on the ground. You can pick the pods when they start turning yellow to protect against that happening. Just lay them out on a cookie sheet or something to finish drying. I have put mine in the shed to guard against thieving critters. Once the pods are dry, shell the seeds and leave them to dry even further before storing them.

    Squash is another easy one but you do need to rinse off the stringy stuff....just like you would do to roast them (sprinkle on a bit of salt or even other seasoning, roast in a 250 oven turning a time or two YUM)

    Corn just needs to be thoroughly dried, then removed from the cob, then left to dry another couple days.

    Tomatoes, Cucumbers & Tomatillos need to be soaked several days to separate the seed from the gel. Just scoop the gunk & seeds into a glass of water & let set. After a few days there may be scum or even some mold. Just scrape that off & toss. It may take a few more days before the good seeds sink to the bottom. Then just pour off the gunky water, lay out the seeds to dry.

    Broccoli, Lettuces, Spinach, and such as that will 'bolt'. Broccoli curds (all those little green things that make up the head) will begin to separate and grow out from the main head into tall branches that produce yellow flowers that then will become seed pods...….and the other greens will grow stalks, then flowers, then seed pods...….all these will also split and spill the seeds if you're not careful to pick them before that happens. But you also have to be careful not to pick the pods too soon.

    Then there's the biennials.....carrots, cabbage, beets, onions and a few others. In order to get seeds from these, you need to leave a few of each in the ground, cover them with mulch to overwinter in place. Next spring they will start to grow again (cabbage heads will split before sending up a stalk that flowers that makes seed pods), beets send up a stalk and seed clumps (beets don't give single seeds, but clumps of em) will develop along the stalk. Carrots will grow up and out branching off and look similar to dill heads....but many of them. Onions of course will grow a round ball of seeds on top of the leaf (green onion stalk)

    Potatoes are really a bit more tricky than most people think. Yes we all plant 'seed' potatoes, or even old sprouted taters can grow a crop of spuds and if that 'seed' potato is big enough, you can cut it into smaller pieces each with atleast 2 or 3 eyes (sprouts). But I found out this year, that potatoes can also produce real seeds. Normally once a potato plant flowers, it turns brown and the flowers fall off before producing a seed pod.
    Here is a link to more information about true potato seeds.... https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edi...ed-growing.htm

    I save a lot of my own seed, though I have had trouble with some lettuces, carrots and onions. I've never had success growing onions from seed to begin with and I've always had to buy the bulb sets. Carrots I have grown, waited out the second year, saved the seed......but when planting that seed only 1 out of 10 were orange carrots. The other 9 were some shade of yellow or white or pale orange......and I've always grown Danvers a bright orange variety. This year I did try St Valery from Baker Creek Seeds and I left a few in ground to try saving seed again, so we'll see what happens next year or the year after that. Normally I just buy extra seed so I have plenty. Then there's lettuce, that bolts to flower which looks like a type of dandelion puff but never developed past that stage. So that's still in the experimental stage as well.

    I'm sure I forgot a few things here, but it's usually easy enough information to find online. But I also wanted to mention, that if you intend to save your seeds make sure you save seeds from atleast 3 different plants to ensure quality genetics and this goes for all varieties...….just think of it this way, if you only save seed from one plant each year you will eventually get some weird stuff...kinda like plant incest.
    Joe likes this.

  2. #2
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    Oh and btw...…...in the spring before you start tilling or digging....look over your soil for any possible seedlings coming up volunteer from last years crops. Tomatoes especially are notorious for sprouting volunteer starts.

  3. #3
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    When saving your seeds keep in mind you want to bring in other verities also. Keeping the same ones year after year can result is crop failure. If Tomatoes are grow in the same are year after year you really should clean the area of all the plants at the end of your season.
    New life as a house husband, major shift in duties.

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  5. #4
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    Good advice but You need to address a few things.

    Beans and peas leave a few of the best and first pods for seed. The best for genetics, the first so the seeds mature before a frost (people down south ignore this, a concern for us
    "Yankees"). These can cross pollinate but keeping them on different sides of the garden usually keeps them from having a legume orgy.

    Squashes/pumpkins are very promiscuous, pollinated by bees/insects. They will cross to form all sorts of hybrids. You need to isolate a blossom and hand pollinate with the same variety of squash. Then keep if covered until fruit forms. Mark these squash fruit so you don't toss the seeds. I've seen all sorts of squash/pumpkin crosses if I let any volunteers grow in the spring, some were wonderful hybrid edibles, some a waste of space. I grow so many types of squash I don't know what the good hybrids parents were.

    Corn is wind pollinated and as promiscuous as squash. You need to isolate immature ears before they tassle or keep varieties well isolated. Your neighbors corn will pollinate yours if the wind is right. Farmers in the midwest have this problem bad with the huge fields of GMO/Roundup corn nearby.

    Most brassicas are biennials, and they will cross between species. The exception is broccoli which is an annual. You can get true seed if only growing one variety of broccoli and no other two year old brassicas nearby. These are bee/insect pollinated. For the biennials you do need to over winter them, then isolate to get true seeds.

    Carrots as mentioned are biennials but will cross not only with carrots but with wild cousins like queen Anne's lace. If you have the latter in nearby fields , they will cross pollinate.

    Growing onions from seed is difficult up north. A solution is to let them overwinter under mulch or dig them up and replant in the spring as large sets.

    Your best garlic cloves should also be planted fall and allowed to overwinter. If you did not pick off the skypes in the summer, you can also plant the seed bulbs which form in the fall, these will take two years to produce good bulbs.

    Have never tried potatoes from seed. I always have enough left in the root cellar each spring to plant. So many I don't bother cutting up ones with eyes, just plant the whole spud. I still have some living ones in the cellar from last fall, lots of sprouts and shriveled, but could be eaten if SHTF. I have planted some of these after 2 winters storage, also 2 year old onions.

    Lettuce is real easy. Let some of the best first plants bolt (not the ones which bolt first, that is a bad trait, same for spinach). When the heads start to die and the seeds are mature, cut off the whole stalk and hang to dry. You can leave them hanging like this but they will drop some seeds. Other wise collect the seed pods and winnow the seed from. Do the same with spinach.

    Dill is real easy to save seed. Let the plants mature and collect the seed heads. They will drop seeds and you will have volunteers in the spring if you don't till them under or weed out.

    Parsley is also easy, but a biennial. Let some overwinter under mulch or pot a few to take inside. Mice will wipe them out under mulch so keep that in mind. 2nd year seed stalks will form which you let mature and collect the seed.

    Oregano and sage I just let established plants overwinter. Both will produce their own seed which is easy to harvest, let some of the best seed heads mature.

    Tomatoes and pepper seed are easy to save but varieties of plants should be kept apart to prevent crosses.
    JustAnotherNut and Joe like this.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty901 View Post
    When saving your seeds keep in mind you want to bring in other verities also. Keeping the same ones year after year can result is crop failure. If Tomatoes are grow in the same are year after year you really should clean the area of all the plants at the end of your season.
    That's why it's best to take seed from atleast 3 different plants, just to keep them genes diversified.
    Smitty901 likes this.

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mad Trapper View Post
    Good advice but You need to address a few things.

    Beans and peas leave a few of the best and first pods for seed. The best for genetics, the first so the seeds mature before a frost (people down south ignore this, a concern for us
    "Yankees"). These can cross pollinate but keeping them on different sides of the garden usually keeps them from having a legume orgy.

    Squashes/pumpkins are very promiscuous, pollinated by bees/insects. They will cross to form all sorts of hybrids. You need to isolate a blossom and hand pollinate with the same variety of squash. Then keep if covered until fruit forms. Mark these squash fruit so you don't toss the seeds. I've seen all sorts of squash/pumpkin crosses if I let any volunteers grow in the spring, some were wonderful hybrid edibles, some a waste of space. I grow so many types of squash I don't know what the good hybrids parents were.

    Corn is wind pollinated and as promiscuous as squash. You need to isolate immature ears before they tassle or keep varieties well isolated. Your neighbors corn will pollinate yours if the wind is right. Farmers in the midwest have this problem bad with the huge fields of GMO/Roundup corn nearby.

    Most brassicas are biennials, and they will cross between species. The exception is broccoli which is an annual. You can get true seed if only growing one variety of broccoli and no other two year old brassicas nearby. These are bee/insect pollinated. For the biennials you do need to over winter them, then isolate to get true seeds.

    Carrots as mentioned are biennials but will cross not only with carrots but with wild cousins like queen Anne's lace. If you have the latter in nearby fields , they will cross pollinate.

    Growing onions from seed is difficult up north. A solution is to let them overwinter under mulch or dig them up and replant in the spring as large sets.

    Your best garlic cloves should also be planted fall and allowed to overwinter. If you did not pick off the skypes in the summer, you can also plant the seed bulbs which form in the fall, these will take two years to produce good bulbs.

    Have never tried potatoes from seed. I always have enough left in the root cellar each spring to plant. So many I don't bother cutting up ones with eyes, just plant the whole spud. I still have some living ones in the cellar from last fall, lots of sprouts and shriveled, but could be eaten if SHTF. I have planted some of these after 2 winters storage, also 2 year old onions.

    Lettuce is real easy. Let some of the best first plants bolt (not the ones which bolt first, that is a bad trait, same for spinach). When the heads start to die and the seeds are mature, cut off the whole stalk and hang to dry. You can leave them hanging like this but they will drop some seeds. Other wise collect the seed pods and winnow the seed from. Do the same with spinach.

    Dill is real easy to save seed. Let the plants mature and collect the seed heads. They will drop seeds and you will have volunteers in the spring if you don't till them under or weed out.

    Parsley is also easy, but a biennial. Let some overwinter under mulch or pot a few to take inside. Mice will wipe them out under mulch so keep that in mind. 2nd year seed stalks will form which you let mature and collect the seed.

    Oregano and sage I just let established plants overwinter. Both will produce their own seed which is easy to harvest, let some of the best seed heads mature.

    Tomatoes and pepper seed are easy to save but varieties of plants should be kept apart to prevent crosses.
    Things like tomatoes, peppers, peas & beans......they don't cross pollinate as easily as corn or curcubits (vining crops such as squash, cucumbers, etc) and isn't as likely to be a problem. Those almost have to be hand pollinated with a paint brush in order to get a cross. I only grow one type of corn or squash, just to keep the seed pure. I live in a suburban neighborhood and am the only one who has a garden and my yard is enclosed by a 6 foot fence, so fear of crossing with neighbors is near non-existent, but what you say is true and is good information for others who are in a different locale.

    As for those curcubits crossing and into more detail of it, you can plant different types as long as they are of different genre. Look for the sub-species name (C. Pepo which is most common, C. Maxima and C. Moschata), you can plant one type of each of these without them crossing. But don't plant 2 or more different C. Pepo's or C. Maxima's or they will cross pollinate and create a hybrid. Cucumbers (C. Sativus) or Melons (C. Melo) are of their own groups and will not cross with squash. Though different types of melons or different types of cukes will cross with each other. Similar with squashes.

    Here are a couple of good articles about it....

    https://homeguides.sfgate.com/much-s...ion-79872.html

    https://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/artic.../curbits.shtml


    While they do sell seeds for herbs like Oregano, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, etc they are perennials and the plants can be found at any nursery section in the spring. Not only do they provide fresh herbs to your table, but are great bee and other pollinator attractants to the garden. And that's another thing to plant in your garden is flowers that are bee/pollinator friendly

  8. #7
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    Even though tomatoes and peppers mostly self-pollinate, it's still a good idea to isolate some of the blossoms on your best plants if growing more than one variety. Bees and other pollinators can potentially cross pollinate your blossoms. You should isolate the blossoms before they open.

 

 

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